15 detained in China rabies vaccine scandal

A clinic staff shows a box of Pentaxim vaccine for infants at a children's clinic in Hong Kong, Tuesday, July 24, 2018, as they see a rise in the number of mainland parents bringing their children to Hong Kong for vaccinations after the vaccine scandal in China. Chinese leaders are scrambling to shore up public confidence and oversight of the pharmaceutical industry after a rabies vaccine maker was found faking records, the latest in a slew of public health and safety scandals that have outraged Chinese parents. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
A clinic staff shows boxes of Infanrix and Pentaxim vaccines for infants at a children's clinic in Hong Kong, Tuesday, July 24, 2018, as they see a rise in the number of mainland parents bringing their children to Hong Kong for vaccinations following the vaccine scandal in China. Chinese leaders are scrambling to shore up public confidence and oversight of the pharmaceutical industry after a rabies vaccine maker was found faking records, the latest in a slew of public health and safety scandals that have outraged Chinese parents. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Boxes of Pentaxim vaccines for infants are stacked at a children's clinic in Hong Kong, Tuesday, July 24, 2018, as numbers of mainland parents are bringing their children to Hong Kong for vaccinations following the vaccine scandal in China. Chinese leaders are scrambling to shore up public confidence and oversight of the pharmaceutical industry after a rabies vaccine maker was found faking records, the latest in a slew of public health and safety scandals that have outraged Chinese parents. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

BEIJING — Chinese state media say a total of 15 people have been detained in a growing scandal over the faking of records by a rabies vaccine maker.

Those detained include the CEO of Changchun Changsheng Life Sciences Ltd., which has been accused of fabricating production and inspection records following a surprise visit to company offices by inspectors last week.

The other 14 were also executives at the company, state broadcaster CCTV said on Wednesday.

Both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have demanded urgent attention to the matter, underscoring the government's concern over public outrage about a series of public health scandals, especially ones concerning children.

The World Health Organization applauded the government's action, saying it shows "when regulatory oversight works well, potential risks can be averted."

"While the current incident is clearly regrettable, the detection of this event by an unannounced inspection shows that the regulatory authority's system of checks and balances to protect population health is working," WHO's Beijing office said in a statement.

While there have been no reports of injuries, authorities have impounded the vaccines and suspended production at the company's plant in northeastern China.

The disclosure of the scandal has ricocheted around social media, reviving memories of past scandals involving faulty medications and bogus infant formula that contained little more than starch.

A similar scandal erupted two years ago after police broke up a criminal ring that sold millions of faulty baby vaccines — but did not disclose the case for months.

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